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ALEXANDER YON  HTJMBOLDT.                151
And if we consider his style, the manner and form
of his literary descriptions, the artistic side of the
author, we shall here again find the truth of the well-
known proverb : ". le style c'est l*7iomme.y3
Two nations, the German and the French, claim
Humboklt as one of their classical authors, for he is
equally great in the simple elegance and fluency of
literary description in both languages. Although he
often treats of siibjects dry in themselves, and which,
by a rigid enumeration of self-describing facts, seem
little adapted for an elegant diction, his writings are
all'distinguished by a style which is as easy, fluent,
and kicid in its simplicity and unajffected elegance, as
it is lively, eloquent, and elevated whenever the sub-
ject permits it. His scientific communications bear
the characteristic of clearness, and of being founded
on ample proofs ; his descriptions of nature, without
being overbLirdened with words, seem like living
landscapes painted with accurate fidelity, and their
interest and charm are increased by being inter-
spersed with genial interpretations of nature and its
grand phenomena, while the narrative portion of his
travelling experience is often given with a witty,
cheerful, even humorous, freshness of conception and
of judgment, and his simple sketches of scenes from
natural or national life often attain to poetical
He has peculiarly the talent of describing the
splendour of natural scenery by undeviating fidelity
and absence of all merely rhetorical ornamentation,
whether these descriptions paint the calm ^ or the
stormy ocean, the savannas of Central America, the
giant forests of the tropics, the deserts and precipices
of the Peruvian and Mexican mountains, or the
imvegetating snow summits and craters of volcanos.
"Wherever he describes a single object, any pheno-
menon, or discovery, he always bears in naiad its
relation to natxire in general, short and concisely,
without degenerating into poetical exaggeration; he
can keep alive our admiration for the grandness of